Doug Engelbart @ Computer History Museum — 12/9/2018



Doug Engelbart “discovered” the foundations of interactive computing @ Stanford Research Institute and presented them to the world on 12/9/1968 in “the mother of all demos”.

This event at the Computer History Museum to recognize the 50th anniversary of “the demo” drew tech luminaries such as Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf, Alan Kay, Ted Nelson, and Andy van Dam. It revives memories of collaborating with Doug at Stanford Research Institute circa 1990. We were collaborating around social computing — a derivative of interactive computing / knowledge management and the predecessor of modern social media. I was at Stanford Research Institute; Doug had founded The Bootstrap Alliance — the predecessor of the Doug Engelbart Institute.

The focus of the alliance / the institute — then and now — was to improve our ways of improving in order to accelerate human / social capabilities. Like Doug — rather meta. This reference identifies Doug’s systematic approach to problem-solving — “an augmentation system for augmenting system development”. In other words — a virtuous cycle / a “flywheel effect”; a precursor of continuous improvement philosophies like lean manufacturing and agile development.

An important distinction that this description indicates: the philosophy and innovation system that Doug’s team used vs. the specific artifacts of their disruptive process. As this story describes — Doug didn’t “invent” interactive computing… he “discovered” it. He discovered it… systematically.

Another important distinction that this reference indicates: the focus on augmenting human intellect / harnessing collective intelligence that drove Doug’s team vs. the physical manifestation of technology.

Doug and his team were practicing “human-centric design” / design thinking — and reaping its benefits — long before those terms were trendy. The typical focus (then and now) tends toward the physical artifacts vs. the cognitive / social drivers; it tends toward random creativity / innovation vs. a systematic approach… rigorous intellectual process / mental discipline (especially at early stage).


I reference “the demo” and Doug’s systematic approach in this overview of systematic innovation and I relate it to Innovation Radiation — my particular approach to systematic innovation.

I earned an endorsement from Doug Engelbart for Adaptive Avenue — a patented invention in the Web middleware / user experience domain.


The Innovation System of Doug Engelbart

The ABCs of Organizational Improvement @ Forbes

Engelbart on Improving Improvement @ Service Science

Engelbart “Idea Bomb”


Vannevar Bush / “As We May Think”

The Augmented Knowledge Workshop

The Mother of All Demos @ YouTube

The Mother of All Demos @ Wikipedia


Systematic Innovation @ MedFuse 2018 — 10/30/2018

Discovering Product / Service Value with Systematic Innovation — 10/30/2018

Product / service development in medical technology involves enormous investments and long lead times. In order to realize a substantial return on investment, development efforts need to identify “white space”, or relatively un-exploited territory. They need to identify such white space far in advance of commercialization. Systematic design and innovation can amplify and accelerate that process.

Systematic innovation explores and combines multiple attributes for an ideal or un-discovered product / service configuration. Systematic innovation is an art and a science. The “science” is generation of various combinations of attributes and identification of feasible / relevant configurations. The “art” is identification of relevant attributes as the basis for combinations. Every solution space is unique. A more robust approach can integrate product / service attributes and customer attributes.

We will explore some examples of systematic innovation and we will consider ways that systematic innovation can enhance and accelerate product / service development in medical technology.


MedFuse 2018

slides @ confrnz


Dynamic Strategy / Dynamic Structure @ Twin Cities Business Architecture Forum 2018 — 12/6/2018

Dynamic Strategy, Dynamic Structure: A Systematic Approach to Business Architecture

Sytematic Innovation in Business Architecture

Volatile business environments require dynamic strategy. While conventional approaches to business architecture tend to perpetuate a static mindset, the discipline offers various leverage points for a more dynamic approach. This session will identify some leverage points, provide some design patterns for advancing the practice, and expose indications that the transformation is already in motion.


Business Architecture Summit 2018

slides @ Google



Systematic Innovation @ Product Camp 2018 — 11/3/2018

Discovering Product / Service Value with Systematic Innovation”  –  11/3/2018

Modern industry relies on a continuous flow of innovation… organizations are desperate for innovation as a growth engine. Organizations are organisms and they are subject to the biological maxim — “grow or die”. Synthetic growth is not sustainable; organizational health and prosperity requires organic growth. Innovation is oxygen. But innovation is too slow and too un-predictable. The quantity and quality of innovation is not sufficient.

Organizations don’t need to rely on random and esoteric inspiration. They can accelerate and amplify innovation — they can make it more repeatable, more scalable, and more distributed with a systematic approach. The notion of systematic innovation might sound like an inherent contradiction. We will resolve this apparent contradiction with a combination of art and science. We see opportunity in apparent contradictions and we use systematic innovation to extract value from such contradictions.

Maybe you haven’t heard the theory or history of systematic innovation. Sorry — this session won’t provide theoretical or historical context. We will work some examples with our unique approach. We will provide an opportunity for you to work an example. Join us for this practical introduction to systematic innovation.


Systems Engineering in Socio-Technical Systems @ INCOSE — 9/13/2018



Systems Engineering in Socio-Technical Systems” @ INCOSE (9/13/2018)

{p. 22 — scroll down to bottom right}

The tension / fracture between product design and systems engineering imposes a significant load on the overall product / service development system and results in a significant loss of value from a financial analysis perspective. This fracture is a systems issue and systems engineering could address it in an objective, effective, and systematic way. Systems engineering, as a discipline and a community, has failed to address this issue. We call upon the discipline and the community to re-evaluate its posture toward optimizing the super-system (eco-system) in which it operates.



Systematic Innovation @ Twin Cities Startup Week 2018 — 10/8/2018



Twin Cities Startup Week


Optimizing Product / Service Configuration with Systematic Innovation

10/8/2018 @ Real World / 1

At early stage, discovering product / market fit is essential…

Participants are invited to submit examples for consideration. Participants who submit their examples will have a chance to refine their product / service configuration with our approach.

If you would like to submit an example, please contact us with a brief description of your concept.


post @ LinkedIn

slides @ Google {select “View” / “Present”}


Innovation Radiation @ Quill Security

Quill Security

Quill Security found its groove…


Customer Experience / Employee Experience

normandale partnership center


Customer Focus North @ Normandale Partnership Center (7/17/18)

CX and EX — never the twain shall meet. Enter Customer Focus North on 7/17/18 at Normandale Partnership Center on the campus of Normandale Community College. The two disciplines converged with high energy in the region’s inaugural edition of this behaviorally-oriented event.

As Lee Schafer chronicled recently, MSP has long been a hub of customer experience and employee experience. As Dan Wallace explained to Lee, Joe Pine (author of The Experience Economy), Lou Carbone (founder of Experience Engineering), and Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) all originated here. So the absence of a comprehensive annual event has seemed like a bit of an anomaly. In producing CFN and aggregating the local thought leaders in this field, Dave Mathias filled the gap with a flair.

Lots of thoughtful content and interaction — too much to cover in detail. Some of the highlights from my perspective:

nancy o'brien

The workshops were the main event. A wide range of practical topics — I felt like a kid in a candy store trying to make my choice. I followed the rules and attended only one workshop — some of my colleagues (who will go un-named) attended as many as three of the practical sessions. In retrospect, I wish that I had been less compliant. I attended “experience happiness” with Nancy O’Brien and Linda Saggau. Maybe sounds a bit funky, but Nancy and Linda are well-established in the serious EX realm and their approach (The Happiness Practice / THP) is both practical and relevant to the challenges of the modern workplace. It was the topic that was least familiar to me, so I decided to venture into foreign territory. It was a worthwhile addition to my portfolio.

An under-current of the event was the potential tension and synergy between CX and EX. I would assert that EX is the basis of CX; happy employees = happy customers. I think that Nancy O’Brien would agree, although there was a diversity of opinion around the event. I would also assert that all of the UX capabilities that we apply in the CX domain are equally relevant in the EX domain.

Other workshops included Sprocket CX on the intersection of customer experience and data science; Rêve Consulting on change management in the context of service design and managing the human side of change; and Kurt Schmidt / Emily Schmidt on experience prototyping. BTW: “Rêve” means “dream” in French. Pretty cool identity.

elizabeth yang

Elizabeth Yang of Optum Technology came from Boston to share her perspectives on the convergence / integration of service design and agile development. Another case of never the twain shall meet; analogous to the integration of development and operations in the DevOps movement, although a more complex interface. Very thought-provoking and relevant to my current pursuits. I also enjoyed a lively conversation with Elizabeth after her presentation.

dan hill

Lou Carbone headlined the show with an historical and evolutionary perspective on CX / EX; I resonated with his perspective on CX as a fusion of art and science. Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics, covered guest recovery.

As usual, the spontaneous conversations were often the most enriching. I enjoyed thoughtful conversations with Justin Royer of Sprocket CX at the CXPA pre-event; Brenda Dickinson and Sunny Ainley of Normandale’s continuing education program in the sponsorship area; and Dan Wallace at happy hour.

My current focus is systematic innovation and all roads lead to SI. This brief, yet intense, immersion in the CX world illuminated the potential application of systematic innovation in CX; also the unique potential of systematic innovation to integrate CX / user research with product design and technology development.

It’s a thing. Congratulations and thanks to Dave Mathias and his team for getting this thing launched and I’m looking forward to next year… presuming that Dave Mathias returns from darkest Africa.


I recently presented on systematic innovation in concurrent development at the SCPD webinar series; an audio recording of the session will be available soon.

I will be presenting on systematic innovation in UX at DevJam / Product Agility on 8/14/18.


post @ LinkedIn: “Adventures in Customer Experience / Employee Experience